Brenda and I had to pleasure of attending a send-off event for area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) high school graduates who will be entering their first years at our alma mater, Western Carolina University. The whole “going off to college” thing has certainly changed, since my day of packing my clothes in a backpack and tossing it and a wooden crate of books into the back of my Fiat and hoping that it makes it up the mountains to Cullowhee. (Point in fact, I attended the local community college for two years, and one and a half years at East Caroline University before going to WCU.)
Unfortunately, none of the youngsters there were familiar with Western Carolina’s celebrated and accomplished 300+ instrument marching band
We were there last night to congratulate the youngsters, 15,000 applicants and just less than 1,500 admitted, and wish them luck, since only 35.1% of incoming freshmen at North Carolina public universities graduate in four years. It is encouraging, though not comforting to parents, that 59.1% gradate within six years (“College completion,” 2012).
The second reason that I attend these things is to count the number of alum who graduated before I did. I counted one, by six years. admittedly, It did take me six years to get my four year degree – for a wild variety of reasons.
At the beginning of the organized part of the event, led by WCU admissions and alumni officials, the youngsters were asked to introduce themselves, name the high schools they graduated from and their majors. All graduated from Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham high schools, plus one from a school in up-state New York and one from somewhere in Florida. Surprisingly, only two said, “Undecided” when reporting their majors, with a majority aiming for carriers in criminal justice, psychology, broadcasting, and one sociology.
Out of about 30 entering WCU freshmen from the Research Triangle of North Carolina, not a single one hopes to become a teacher.
Even though I am outraged, I am not surprised.